NINE-from-NINE: Matthews sets the tone with touchdown on opening drive

Aug. 8, 2013

Vanderbilt had a historic season in 2012, finishing 9-4 overall and winning the Music City Bowl. The nine wins were the most by a Vanderbilt team since 1915. In the coming weeks, will relive each win by highlighting one play from every game. To get a better understanding of the play, we watched each highlight with the featured player and had him take us through the moment.

Matthews Converts Fourth Down into Touchdown

Nov. 3, 2012
Vanderbilt 40, Kentucky 0
Lexington, Ky.

Watch Highlight

The play set the tone for the rest of the game. On the opening drive of the game at Kentucky, the Commodores were faced with a fourth-and-5 at the Kentucky 34-yard line. Kicking was not an option in the mind of Coach James Franklin, who has a propensity for going for it on fourth down.

Instead, Franklin put the ball in the hands of quarterback Jordan Rodgers, who found wide receiver Jordan Matthews streaking over the middle of the field. After shedding a would-be tackler, Matthews scampered into the end zone for a 34-yard touchdown.

The touchdown gave Vanderbilt a 7-0 lead en route to a 40-0 thumping. Matthews finished the game with five catches for 75 yards in what was Vanderbilt's largest victory margin over Kentucky in 96 years.

On the play, Matthews lined up in the slot with a linebacker. He ran five yards forward and then broke to the right, crossing the middle of the field where Rodgers found him open between the linebacker and safety.

In His Words
Matthews Breaks it Down

Step-by-Step: It was basically a seam play. I saw Kentucky go 1-high so I saw the backer move into my zone. When he tried to take that middle zone, I knew I was going to try and just run that play off him. I just used him to pick where my bend angle was and once I dipped around him and got the ball, I just had one man to beat. I made the first man miss and then I just had to break a tackle on the safety and we were home free from there.

Visualization: If you look at it from the very beginning, I saw the blitz from the first linebacker so I knew that they weren't just going to leave that zone open, so the other linebacker was going to come over. Instead of taking a really high angle, I knew I would just bend right around him and I would make my route a little shorter, that way I would get there quicker. It was kind of just reading off of him and just reading the blitz.

Exploiting a Zone: Speed beats man, but spots beat zone. Whenever you read zone, you know you have to get to a certain area as fast as possible. As opposed to man where I can just beat somebody, I knew exactly where I had to get once I read zone.

Unmatched Chemistry: Me and J-Rog always had that kind of chemistry. Coming out of the huddle, I told him, 'look for me' and when he kind of winked at me right before the play, I said, 'I think he is going to be coming for me,' so I knew I had to get open for him. Once he saw me, I knew he was going to come to me and that was all she wrote.

Timing is Everything: It is really a huge timing play. Jordan and I worked on that in the summers and we never just did routes, we would always have a dummy there that would be like that linebacker moving into a spot in a Cover 3 or a Cover 9. He's already throwing it before I even make that move on the dummy so when we do it in real life in the real game, we've done it so many times that he is not even second guessing. He knows I am going to get there so he is just throwing it on time and I've got to be there.

It Set the Tone: I definitely think it set the tone. I think it says a lot about Coach Franklin because it showed how he has a feel for the game. He knew it was really important for us to get in the end zone that first drive, so fourth-and-5, I don't think kicking was even in his thought process. He knew we were going to take a shot, called the right play and ended up being right.

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Auburn Game
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